Potent Places in Central Vietnam: ‘Everything that Comes Out of the Earth is Cham

To cite this article: Anne-Valérie Schweyer (2017): Potent Places in Central Vietnam:
‘Everything that Comes Out of the Earth is Cham’, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, DOI:
10.1080/14442213.2017.1370478
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/14442213.2017.1370478

In central Vietnam, Thừa Thiên-Huế and Quảng Trị provinces occupy a special place in current Vietnamese culture. The study of the archaeological sites and objects of this region will allow us to resituate in their historical fabric places related to Chams and considered to be ‘potent’ by today’s Vietnamese. It is an archaeo-geographical approach that intends to seek today’s references in the past (Guillaud 2008Guillaud, Dominique. 2008. “Le mythe comme fondement des territoires et de l’ordre social dans les îles de l’ouest de Sumatra (Indonésie).” EchoGéo 5: DOI: 10.4000/echogeo.2278.[Crossref][Google Scholar], 32).

Taking a diachronic approach, this work proposes to study the continuities around places, statues and stones dating from the time of former Campā and manifest in the recognition of ‘potent places’ that lasted until the modern era. ‘Potent places’ are those that have an effect on individuals, are part of the history of society and, as such, have a particular significance for the community. The study is based on fieldwork conducted during field trips in 2013 and 2014, and interviews with Vietnamese inhabitants working or living around the ancient Cham sites that are still considered as ‘potent’ by the locals.

Tutelary spirits are regarded as earth gods by the Vietnamese who live in the former Cham territory.11 ‘Earth gods are not distinguishable in the specification of a territory (the contours of which are generally vague and fluctuating), but rather in that of a human community in connection with a natural environment that it develops’ (Formoso 1996Formoso, Bernard1996. “Les dieux du sol en Asie: de l’apprivoisement à l’inféodation.” Etudes rurales 143/144: 1526.http://www.jstor.org/stable/20122667. [Google Scholar], 16).View all notes In still active sites where Cham statues are honoured, they are worshipped as female spirits. These are clearly identified as Cham and cannot be confused with other Vietnamese spirits. All these tutelary spirits are part of a territory, of the ‘religious land register’, as Mus (1933Mus, Paul1933. “VIII. Cultes indiens et indigènes au Champa.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 33: 367410. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1933.4628[Crossref][Google Scholar], 378) underlines. This relationship to places maintained by the people occupying them today helps to define both their identity and their territoriality (Guillaud 2008Guillaud, Dominique. 2008. “Le mythe comme fondement des territoires et de l’ordre social dans les îles de l’ouest de Sumatra (Indonésie).” EchoGéo 5: DOI: 10.4000/echogeo.2278.[Crossref][Google Scholar], 1).

After presenting the history of the region, a study of terms describing the Cham sites and objects will allow us to determine their specificity. Given that Cham places have been reinterpreted by the Vietnamese and the supposed power of the places transferred to Cham statues, we will first examine the places where a goddess named Thiên Y A Na is honoured, then the places where a mother goddess, who is not formally identified, is feared and honoured.

Mus (1933Mus, Paul1933. “VIII. Cultes indiens et indigènes au Champa.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 33: 367410. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1933.4628[Crossref][Google Scholar], 371), when speaking of the evolution of worship practices among the Cham communities over the centuries, dismisses the idea of alteration of practices; he too remains convinced that deep values have been passed down from generation to generation. One can go further and try to show that the socially constructed relationship of the place to the territory powerfully transcends the differences between communities, and also ‘reinforces the integration of these populations into a larger regional formation’ (Schlemmer 2012Schlemmer, Grégoire2012. “Rituals, Territories and Powers in the Sino-Indian Margins.” Moussons 19: 53.http://moussons.revues.org/1174. [Google Scholar], 23), without denying or questioning the antecedence of the Cham. This is not a study of the Vietnamisation of Cham cults, but an attempt to prove the continuity of the potency of the Cham sites across time.

Cham Northern Territories: Potency Built by History

The ‘Chams’ are groups who left Borneo around the beginning of the Christian era. They fostered the development of the region and marked the territory through their monument foundations. Located in the Rinan Chinese commandery, Linyi was first recognised, at the end of the second century, as a constituted political entity, extending over the current provinces of Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên-Huế (Schweyer 2012Schweyer, Anne-Valérie2012. “The Birth of Champa.” In Connecting Empires and States, edited by Dominic BonatzAndreas Reinecke, and Mai Linh Tjoa-Bonatz102117Singapore NUS Press. [Google Scholar], 103, 105) (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên-Huế Provinces in Contemporary Vietnam. Source: Author

From the sixth century ce, the wealth generated by trade exchanges enabled the diversification of tasks and helped to anchor the Cham population in the area. Farming activities were carried out on a regular basis in the north of Quảng Trị province, where the cult of the first ‘clearing ancestors’ can be found. The hydraulic systems of this region, dating from the seventh and eighth centuries (Lâm Mỹ Dung 1993Lâm, Mỹ Dung1993. “Các công trìn khai thác nươc dùng đá xếp ỏ Quảng Trị.” Khảo cổ học (2). [Google Scholar], 76) are contemporary with ‘stone-spirits’ and memorials to the villages’ clearing ancestors (Colani 1940Colani, Madeleine1940. “Emploi de la pierre en des temps reculés. Annam-Indonésie-Assam.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 40 (1–4): 5250. [Google Scholar], 74, 78). Legendary founders of these villages have very indicative names: Ông Cao ‘Mr Ancestor’; Ông tiền khai khẩn‘Mr who first began clearing’ (the first person who arrives on a territory and who clears (khẩn) this territory); and finally Ông hậu khai canh ‘the one that continues to clear (a territory) and to plough (there)’. Ông Cao, the ancestor, and Ông tiền khai khẩn, the clearing ancestor, are honoured for their involvement in the organisation of the territory. Yet, in this region, Chams are still identified by the Vietnamese as ‘those who have cleared’ the land and enhanced it.

Between 605 and 630, the first Champa inscriptions mention King Kandarpadharma (Schweyer 2012Schweyer, Anne-Valérie2012. “The Birth of Champa.” In Connecting Empires and States, edited by Dominic BonatzAndreas Reinecke, and Mai Linh Tjoa-Bonatz102117Singapore NUS Press. [Google Scholar], 111–113), who established his capital in the area of the current Huế region.22 The current ‘citadel of Chams’ (Thành Lồi), located south of the Perfume River.View all notes The creation of structures related to political administration was made possible by increased wealth and a demographic explosion.

In the tenth century, under the Indrapura Cham dynasty based in Quảng Nam province, the Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên-Huế area definitely experienced an expansion. International conditions were optimal for this territorial expansion, because the Chinese Tang dynasty was in decline, while the Việts settled in the Red River Delta had not yet freed themselves from the heavy Chinese tutelage. When the second king of the dynasty married a princess from the current Quảng Trị province, the region became covered with Cham towers and sculptures, thus generating a tight network of religious sites occupying the lowlands. Almost all the Cham sites of this period feature major archaeological landmarks that are likely to have impressed the inhabitants.

From the eleventh century onwards, the region suffered attacks from Việts coming from the Red River Delta (Vickery 2005Vickery, Michael. 2005. “Champa Revised.” Working Paper Series No. 37, Asia Research Institute Singapore.http://www.ari.nus.edu.sg/wps/wps05_037.pdf. [Google Scholar], 52). The construction of temples came to a halt, being replaced by the development of the defence system, as the construction of new citadels testifies. Only the site of Linh Thái was constructed at the extreme south of the Thừa Thiên-Huế region.

In the early thirteenth century, there was an active campaign for the Việt with a view to clearing and occupying the new land. This growth was cut short by the Mongol invasions which, in the late thirteenth century, united the Việts and the Chams against the common enemy, but clashes resumed straight after. There is no testimony of remarkable buildings constructed during this period. The situation stabilised in favour of the Chams between 1360 and 1389 thanks to Cham King Chế Bồng Nga from the Huế region.33 The Cham king is called by his Vietnamese name, as his native name is unknown.View all notes This king was to become the symbol of the re-conquest of an ancestral territory.

During the Chinese Ming invasion of Việt countries from 1400 to 1447, the Việt people fled to the south. A record book (Thủy thiên bản) tells how a Viêt family, the Bùi family, came to settle in the village of Câu Nhi (district of Hải Lăng, province of Quảng Trị).44 Personal communication with Trần Đình Hằng, Director of VICAS- Huế, in August 2014 after Trịnh and Nguyễn’s 1997Trịnh, Khắc Mạnh, and Nguyễn, Văn Nguyên. 1997Ô Châu cận lụcHà NộiNhà xuất bản Khoa học xã hội. [Google Scholar] publication Bức tranh dân cư vùng Thuận Hóa đầu thế kỷ XV qua văn bản Thỉ thiên tự, 124–125.View all notes We read that in 1429, in accordance with a Court decree, the Chams left the ‘district of Ô’ and those who had nothing formed groups of farmers and inhabited these regions. A Việt group came to settle in the region, intending to stay there, since the ancestors’ remains were brought along. During a ceremony, Việt migrants summoned the ‘spirits and the gods’ and asked for their permission to cultivate the land. The text indicates that they worried about their position as a ‘minority group’. The district was therefore not as depopulated as the official decree suggests.

In addition, the book refers to the locals as the ‘people of Bồng Nga’, named after Chế Bồng Nga, the famous Cham king. Possibly, this term covers members of the Chế family, descending from the Cham still present in four hamlets in the region and who, although very Vietnamised, perpetuated some Cham traditions.55 Namely, An Dô, An Mỹ, Vân Thê and La Vân.View all notes

Once the Chinese had been defeated, the struggle between the Chams and Việts resumed resulting in the destruction by the Việts of the most opulent Cham capital of the period, Vijaya, in Bình Định province, in 1471.

The Thừa Thiên-Huế and Quảng Trị regions were gradually populated by Việt people coming from the north. In 1558, Lord Nguyễn Hoàng, threatened by disputes between the Trinh and Mạc dynasties and faithful to the Lê emperors, asked Emperor Trinh, his brother-in-law, for the administration of a region on the borders of the empire. He was granted the administration of the Thuân Hoa region.66 The Thuân Hoa forms the southern border of the Việt country and seems to be aptly named: Ô châu ac dia ‘the district of Ô of an extreme rigour’ (Laborde 1921Laborde, A. 1921. “La province de Quàng-Tri.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 21: 109130. [Google Scholar], 111).View all notes He moved to Ái Tử, in the district of Triệu Phong, in what is today Quảng Trị province,77 On the reception of people during his installation, see Taylor (1993Taylor, K.W. 1993. “Nguyen Hoang and the Beginning of Viet Nam’s Southward expansion.” In Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Era, edited by Anthony Reid4265IthacaCornell University Press. [Google Scholar], 62).View all notes and managed to become accepted in a territory where the population was still mostly Cham.

Nguyễn Hoàng sought to extend his power, and the idea of creating a kingdom independent from the north may have occurred to him. He imposed his authority throughout the region and was considered the father of the Nguyễn dynasty, the lords of which governed the region between 1613 and 1775 and whose kings reigned from Huế during the period 1802 until 1945, after the suppression of the revolt of Tây Sỏn by Gia Long. The various Nguyễn lords changed their capital several times over the years (Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 1925Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué. 1925. Index 1: 1914-1923. Hanoi. [Google Scholar], 85), but remained in the provinces of Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên-Huế.

Lexical Study

The study of terms describing Cham objects and sites makes it possible to establish their specificity. All the terms under scrutiny are Vietnamese and were recorded either during studies conducted in the early twentieth century (by both Sallet and Cadière who worked extensively in the region for more than forty years) or during field trips conducted by the author in order to list all Cham sites in the region. The following study is a ‘digest’ of the interviews conducted during the field trips, in dialogue with studies conducted in colonial times.

The Vietnamese interviewed think that most Cham sites have ‘an extraordinary nature’ while also considering that they are ‘haunted’ có ma. Place names in which the word linh occurs are often marks of a Cham past. The word linh conveys the notion of supernatural influence, whether benevolent or malevolent. Thus, stones—natural form—have become the seat of a ‘supernatural’ potency (Sallet 1923Sallet, Albert1923. “Les souvenirs chams dans le folklore et les croyances annamites du Quang-Nam.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 23–2: 201228. [Google Scholar], 204, 206, 212; Cadière 1944Cadière, Léopold1944Croyances et pratiques religieuses des Viêtnamiens. Tome IIParisEFEO. [Google Scholar], 106). These have become places of memory endowed with potency.

Each linh place refers to an exceptional event that made a deep impression on people and subsequently became characterised as ‘haunted’. For example, at Linh Thái, at the location of the ancient Cham tower (late thirteenth century) ‘extraordinary and miraculous things’ often occurred (Cadière 1905aCadière, Léopold1905a. “Monuments et souvenirs chams du Quàng-tri et du Thưa-thièn.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 5: 185195. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1905.2637[Crossref][Google Scholar], 401), prompting, in 1667, the Việt lord to move the sculptures deemed linh out of the tower and to turn the Cham tower into a Buddhist pagoda.

In modern times, the term dàng (or giàng, which is pronounced the same) indicates the remains of Cham occupation. Most likely, dàng would be one pronunciation of the Cham word yaṅ (the equivalent of the Sanskrit śrī) applied to each deity or temple’s name to mark its ‘sacred character’ (Sallet 1923Sallet, Albert1923. “Les souvenirs chams dans le folklore et les croyances annamites du Quang-Nam.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 23–2: 201228. [Google Scholar], 204). We can thus say that all Cham places are considered potent by the Vietnamese. The word dàng/giàng qualifies any form of Cham presence: cồn dàng ‘sacred hill’; lum dàng ‘sacred wood’; rung dàng ‘sacred forest’; go dàng‘sacred hill’, and this sense is also adopted for the sculptures: bà dàng ‘the sacred Lady’.

In Quảng Ɖiền, the spirit of the site in the ‘temple to sacred (giàng) Lady Holy Mother spirit’ (Miếu Bà Giàng Tiên Nuong tân thần) is honoured as a Việt spirit on the bricks of the Cham tower surrounded by Cham stones, carefully preserved outside the surrounding wall to avoid disturbing the Việt spirit. The small, neat temple stands in the middle of a farmed field, carefully protected. The locals offer joss sticks to the slab when they come nearby (Figure 2).

Figure 2 The Miếu and the Slab to the Sacred Lady (Bà Giàng) at Quảng Ɖiền.

Today, the term giàng is understood by the Vietnamese as a ‘spirit’. So, in Hà Trung or in Ngo Xa, a small altar ‘to the spirit’ can be found near Cham ruins, and locals burn incense there for ‘the spirits of the Chams’. These small altars, made of bricks taken from the site of an ancient Cham tower, are found near the archaeological site; the Vietnamese call them ‘altars to giàng’ and speak of a ‘spirit (thần) that inhabits the place’ (Figure 3).

Figure 3 Altar to Giàng Made from a Few Bricks Taken at Hà Trung Temple.

During our field trip, we usually heard the Vietnamese say that a place or a dàng statue is inhabited by a spirit, in the sense that there is a degree of identity between the spirit and the place or the statue. However, reactions are different depending on whether it is a place or a statue, as a dàng place inspires fear and suggests the forbidden, while the spirit of the dàng stone is honoured and, ultimately, the stone is considered as a spirit. It often happens that present inhabitants hesitate between Bà Giàng (‘Lady Spirit’) and Thần Nữ(‘Spirit Woman’) to describe a Cham sculpture, and this seems to indicate that the meaning of giàng/dàng/yaṅis identical to that of Thần, both being spirits of a place. The only Cham sculpture that is not described as a ‘Lady’ in Phương Sơn is a statue of Śiva, which has been redesigned and decorated in a Vietnamese way. It is called Thần Ɖá ‘stone spirit’ (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Phương Sơn. Thần Ɖá Sculpture ‘Stone Spirit’.

The term used for towers, walls or Cham statues is lồi. It means ‘to come out from the earth’, ‘to stand up’; it refers to memories of the Cham presence that, one day, emerged from the earth. It is through this emergence that the Vietnamese say they met the previous occupants of the region. The word lồi can qualify a citadel thành lồi, or an eminence cồn lồi. When applied to a statue, it is always used to qualify a female tutelary spirit, Bà lồi ‘Lady out of the earth’. When today’s Vietnamese use this expression, they systematically translate lồi as ‘Cham’ because, as they add, all the stones ‘out of the earth’ are Chams. Very often they just call a Cham statue ; thus, a Cham relief of Thanh Phước, formerly called Bà lồi or Bà dàng, is today only called  and is housed in an Am Bà ‘temple of the Lady’.

In Phương Soi, a small altar dedicated to Lồi Giàng was erected near an ancient Cham tower. A fragment of yoni can be found in front of this altar. The Vietnamese who take care of it say it is a ‘spirit that came out of the earth’ (Figure 5).

Figure 5 Phương Soi. Lồi Giàng Sculpture ‘The Yang—the Spirit—that is Standing Up’.

A sculpture of Mỹ Xuyên, representing Śiva and qualified as Bà lồi ‘Lady out of the earth’ in a Cham tower ‘requested’ to be moved from its place of origin. The villagers started to remove it, but upon arrival at the place where it is now located, the statue slid to the ground and it was no longer possible to move it. Hence, a small pagoda was erected for her in the middle of Việt land (Cadière 1905aCadière, Léopold1905a. “Monuments et souvenirs chams du Quàng-tri et du Thưa-thièn.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 5: 185195. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1905.2637[Crossref][Google Scholar], 192).

The term lồi can also be associated with the word Phật ‘Buddha’ when it refers to a worshipped statue, whether Buddhist or not. For local residents, the Phật lồi are not qualified as such because they are Buddhas, but because they came out of the earth and are thus considered as Cham by the locals. For example, a statue of Bích La is qualified Phật lồi but is a female statue of Umā Mahiṣāsuramardini protecting the village. She was taken to France and is now in the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, to the villagers’ utter despair, as they considered it to be their patron deity (Parmentier 1909Parmentier, Henri1909Inventaire descriptif des monuments Čam de l’Annam: tome IParisErnest Leroux. [Google Scholar], 531).88 The ninth-century figure can be seen at: http://www.museedesconfluences.fr/fr/ressources/durga-mahasasura-mardini?destination=search/general/Durga%20Mahasasuramardini. Accessed August 14, 2017.View all notes

Similarly, the village of Ha Mi was prosperous thanks to the erection of an artificial mound that ‘opposes Buddhas coming out of the earth’ (trấn Phật Lồi), that is, which protects the village from the harmful influences of the Cham stones of the Bích La tower. Moreover, the barrier has been erected in order to protect the tutelary spirit of Ha Mi village (Thành Hoàng, Dror 2007Dror, Olga. 2007Cult, Culture and Authority: Princess Liễu Hạnh in Vietnamese HistoryHonoluluUniversity of Hawai’i Press. [Google Scholar], 30–31), to counter any bad influence from the Bích La Cham tower (Figure 6).

Figure 6 (a) Cadière (1944Cadière, Léopold1944Croyances et pratiques religieuses des Viêtnamiens. Tome IIParisEFEO. [Google Scholar], 132, Fig. 41); (b) Cadière Placed on 1908 ‘French Indochina’ Map; (c) Cadière Placed on 2017 Google Map.

The idea of ‘coming out of the earth’ can be rendered by the term mọc, which is mainly used for plants. This word mọc is noted by Cadière (1919Cadière, Léopold1919. “II. Le culte des pierres.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, 19 (2): 139. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1919.5650[Crossref][Google Scholar], 8) about a stone venerated in Liêm Cong Dong in Quảng Trị: it was indeed one hand from a Cham statue, but mọc ‘the statue that grows’. Colani (1940Colani, Madeleine1940. “Emploi de la pierre en des temps reculés. Annam-Indonésie-Assam.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 40 (1–4): 5250. [Google Scholar]) lists numerous cults to stones-spirits in the north of Quảng Trị. Called but, they may be at the origin of later kut; they are standing stones ‘coming out from the earth’.

Finally the term mọi (Sallet 1923Sallet, Albert1923. “Les souvenirs chams dans le folklore et les croyances annamites du Quang-Nam.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 23–2: 201228. [Google Scholar], 203–204) ‘wild, barbaric’ is often used to describe Cham remains. This notion of ‘wild’, applied to Chams by Việts, implies that the latter saw themselves as ‘civilised’. They treat these ‘savages’ with both fear and respect. We do not believe that the distance put between the Việts and the former Chams by the use of this term can be attributed to memory loss; quite the contrary. The erection of places of worship next to Cham sites is more likely to be a desire to win the Cham deities over in order to become the new occupants of the land.

The example of the opposition between two villages of the Quảng Trị region—An Lưu and Phương Sơn—is, in this regard, very illuminating. A legend (told in detail in Cadière 1911Cadière, Léopold1911. “Notes sur quelques emplacements chams de la province de Quàng-trị.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 11: 407416. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1911.2697[Crossref][Google Scholar], 408–411) describes how a sculpture was found by a villager from Phương Sơn. He takes the statue back home, honours it, and then all he undertakes finds success. People from An Lưu, the neighbouring village, claim it as theirs to worship, but the statue refuses to leave Phương Sơn. Finally, the spirit present in the statue agrees to be honoured by the people of An Lưu, but from afar and ‘like an invisible spirit’. This legend conceals a rivalry between the Việts newly established in Phương Sơn and the Chams settled in An Lưu. It tells how the Việts were able to capture the potency of the Cham statue. According to the legend, it is the Thần Ɖá, the ‘stone spirit’ (see Figure 4), the spirit who lives in the statue, which endorses this. The specific place to honour the spirit was chosen by the Vietnamese; it is now extremely well protected by the villagers who associate it with the wellbeing of the community.

From this lexical study emerges the fact that Vietnamese places of worship were erected around most places where Chams used to live.99 This can be clearly seen on Project Pacha’s geoportal: http://mapd.sig.huma-num.fr/projet_pacha/flash/?#my_layers. Accessed August 10, 2017.View all notes Stones and/or trees, dàng or lồi, are found nearby: they are seen as related to the earth supporting them and inhabited by a tutelary spirit. It is as if the stone in the earth embodied the potency of the territory, which itself provides prosperity. But the potency of the place is often feared and, most of the time, legends recount that potent spirits contained in the Cham stones need to be honoured by Việts near the ancient Cham sites. So, even if the Chams are not actively present today, the memory of ‘potent places’ remains because what is involved is the agency of statues and their active substance. Energies from the earth are carefully respected by soothing uncontrollable elements, that is, by worshipping the masters of the land, in this case statues that arise from it. In our study, the potent place is therefore a place where the Cham stones interact with the Vietnamese people, in which people maintain a controlled and ritually constructed relationship with the land, as well as the clearing and labouring ancestors. This link to the territory and to founders anchors the Vietnamese group in the land and defines its legitimacy according to a spatial and temporal hierarchy that binds it to the first occupants of this land. Thus, the cultural heritage is fully integrated, including the powerful Cham spirits.

Potent Places Linked to Cham Stones and their Femininity

The cults identified by the author near ancient Cham towers show that a specific relationship has been established around the stones—not around the monuments which are considered haunted and inspire fear. The towers appear desecrated when deprived of their cult, while the stones (statues, inscriptions, sculptures, and so on) retain the potency of the ground. Arguably, the potency linked to the Cham stones is localised and inherent to them. This potency was built by history, in the sense that the Cham deities seem to have been reinterpreted by the Vietnamese, who retain neither the name nor the specificity, but appropriate them, honouring them as earth goddesses, tutelary deities in Vietnamese places of worship. Thus, a Cham statue of the Hindu god Śiva will not be recognised as an image of the great god of destruction, but will be honoured as a goddess of the earth that bears her.

These tutelary spirits are important in the social landscape; they bring wealth and prosperity into the territory they protect. They are always worshipped on small altars or temples, miễu. These spirits acquire local notoriety, because at the level of the village, in relation to the territory, they are more potent and more dangerous than the major deities, to the extent that they are able to intervene in the lives of the villagers. Above all, these ‘land’ deities are linked to a single local and inalienable community (Forest 1992Forest, Alain1992Le culte des génies protecteurs au Cambodge. Analyse et traduction d’un corpus de textes sur les neak taParisL’Harmattan (Coll. « Recherches asiatiques »). [Google Scholar], 24). The memory of the land is therefore organised into a network of places where a potency is expressed, anchoring the Vietnamese population in the area reclaimed from the first occupants, the Chams; offering a local creation of a historical potency, which entails a mixture of recognition (of Cham presence) and forgetting (of the specific meanings of Cham traces) in the building of an anchored memory of continuity.

Cham Po Nagar / Vietnamese Thiên Y A Na

Po Nagar, a Cham goddess, is the personification of the Chams’ land (Schweyer 2004Schweyer, Anne-Valérie2004. “Po Nagar de Nha Trang (1repartie).” Aséanie 14: 109140. doi: 10.3406/asean.2004.1830[Crossref][Google Scholar], 114). Her name is formed from Po, the honorific title, and nagar from the Sanskrit nagara, meaning ‘country’. It can thus be translated as ‘the Lady of the country’. It is used in reference to the eponymous site in the city of Nha Trang in today’s Khánh Hòa province (Nguyễn Anh Thê 1991Nguyễn Thế Anh, 1991. “Thiên-Y-A-Na ou la récupération de la déesse cam Pô Nagar par la monarchie confucéenne vietnamienne.” In Cultes populaires et sociétés asiatiques, edited by Alain ForestYoshiakiIshizawa, and Léon Vandermeersch7386ParisL’Harmattan. [Google Scholar], 74).

Her energy was socially captured by the Việt emperors,1010 The preface of Collection of the Departed Spirits from the Việt Realm (Vit Điện u linh tập), dated 1329, tells how among ‘mysterious affairs of spirits capable of great achievements’, four spirits out of thirty relate to Việt naval actions against the Cham country in the eleventh century (Taylor 1986Taylor, K.W. 1986. “Notes on the Việt Điện U Linh Tập.” Vietnam Forum 8: 2659. [Google Scholar], 26–59).View all notes who wanted to appropriate and to conciliate all their opponents’ spirits of the land. In 1069, the Việt Emperor Lý Thanh Tông boasted of having been helped by the Cham goddess, embodied in a tree, in his attack against the Chams. After his victory, he awarded her the title of ‘Imperial Lady of the Land’ (Hậu thổ phu nhân). In his capital, he established the cult of the Lady of the Land.1111 In the pagoda of the village of Lang (Schweyer 2011Schweyer, Anne-Valérie2011Ancient Vietnam: History, Art and ArchaeologyBangkokRiver Books. [Google Scholar], 296–297).View all notes The Cham Lady was honoured there in the form of a piece of agar wood, a reference to her traditional legend. The reclaiming of local beliefs is a political strategy used by the emperors of the Việt Lý dynasty, who introduced ‘benevolent genies helpful to the dynasty and to the nation’. The Trần emperors identified more genies, and among the ‘sacred spirits of natural elements’ is the Cham goddess Thiên Y A Na.

The name Thiên Y A Na is a transposition of the Sanskrit yang ‘sacred, holy’ in Việt thiên and a phoneticisation of the Cham ina ‘mother’ and nagar ‘country’ in Y A Na. The ‘mother goddess’ or ‘mother goddess of the country’ (Thiên MẫuThiên Y A Na) is then identified as a Cham goddess (Nguyễn Thế Anh 1991Nguyễn Thế Anh, 1991. “Thiên-Y-A-Na ou la récupération de la déesse cam Pô Nagar par la monarchie confucéenne vietnamienne.” In Cultes populaires et sociétés asiatiques, edited by Alain ForestYoshiakiIshizawa, and Léon Vandermeersch7386ParisL’Harmattan. [Google Scholar], 73–86). From the nineteenth century, Po Nagar having become Thiên Y A Na, it is said to be a true Vietnamese deity.

In the fourteenth century, the Cham ‘Lady of the Land’ is mentioned. She would become a Vietnamese mother goddess (Thánh Mẫu or Thánh Mụ) in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and incarnate as the Princess Liễu Hạnh, Việt Immortal, daughter of the Jade Emperor, who was expelled from Taoist heaven for having broken a jade cup. From this episode, the mother goddess kept the name ‘Lady Princess Jade’ (Bà Chúa Ngọc) or ‘Lady Jade/Pearl’ (Bà Ngọc),1212 ‘The Map of the pacified South’ (Bình nam chỉ chưởng nhật trình đồ) probably drawn in the eighteenth century (History of Cartography 1987Harley J-B., and Woodward D. 1987The History of CartographyChicagoThe University of Chicago Press. [Google Scholar], 497) indicates the location of the site of Po Nagar in Nha Trang ‘Tower of the Princess Jade/Pearl’ (Chúa Ngọc Thap), proof of an identification of the mother goddesses around the Cham divinity.View all notes names and titles given to the goddess by royal decree and enshrined in her name: the Goddess Thiên Y A Na Chúa Ngọc. Yet, the various identities later borne by these deities are anything but clear.

At the end of the sixteenth century, the first capital of Lord Nguyễn Hoàng in Ái Tử was far from a Cham location. Yet, the genie of the Ái Tử river appeared to him and helped him to defeat a Mạc general who was marching to destroy his nascent power: the Cham goddess in the form of genie thus inspired him.1313 On the use of dreams by rulers for a didactic purpose, see Kelley (2015Kelley, Liam. 2015. “Constructing Local Narratives: Spirits, Dreams, and Prophecies in the Medieval Red River Delta.” In China’s Encounters on the South and Southwest. Reforging the Fiery Frontier Over Two Millennia, edited by James Anderson78105LeidenBrill. [Google Scholar], 98–104). Controlling the spirits seems to be more than just a way to ‘keep the common people in line’ but a process to incorporate them.View all notes To thank her, Nguyễn Hoàng ordered the construction of a ‘pagoda of the Lady’ (chùa Bà) for her. Then, in 1570, he relocated his capital from Ái Tử to Trà Bat, next to the Cham site of Trà Liên (Lê, Ɖức Thọ 2012Lê, Ɖức Thọ2012Văn Hóa Chămpa di tích và huyền thoại (tỉnh Quảng Trị)HueNhà Xuất Bản Thuận Hóa. [Google Scholar], 127–133).1414 The present village of Trà Liên was called Trà Bat in the mid-sixteenth century as recorded in Ô châu cân luc(Trịnh and Nguyễn 1997Trịnh, Khắc Mạnh, and Nguyễn, Văn Nguyên. 1997Ô Châu cận lụcHà NộiNhà xuất bản Khoa học xã hội. [Google Scholar], 42).View all notes The Cham site must have presented the strategic characteristics that he needed, while enabling him to draw on the potency of the Cham goddess Po Nagar aka Thiên Y A Na.

When Nguyễn Hoàng sought a favourable, southernmost site, near current Huế, it was still close to a Cham site dedicated to a mother goddess (Chùa Thiên Mẫu/Mụ) where he settled in 1601, as if to capture her power. This pagoda had already been mentioned in 1555 and Lord Nguyễn only reactivated the energy of the Cham Lady in his favour.1515 Ô châu cân luc, ch. 5, ‘Pagodas and Temples’ (Trịnh and Nguyễn 1997Trịnh, Khắc Mạnh, and Nguyễn, Văn Nguyên. 1997Ô Châu cận lụcHà NộiNhà xuất bản Khoa học xã hội. [Google Scholar], 79).View all notes He did so by ‘founding’ the Pagoda of the Heavenly Mother and seems to have harnessed the Cham goddess for a political purpose. Controlling the spirit and her locality seems to have been a process aimed at incorporating the local people into his own historicisation. On the one hand, his apparent gratitude to the goddess secures the support of the local people; on the other, it differentiates him from the deities of the court of Thăng Long. Again in 1711, a ‘representative of the illustrious kingdom of Champa’ is present alongside the reigning prince at an official ceremony honouring this pagoda (Cadière 1905bCadière, Léopold1905b. “Sur quelques monuments élevés par les Seigneurs de Cochinchine (contribution à l’inventaire des monuments historiques annamites).” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 5: 387405. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1905.2657[Crossref][Google Scholar], 395, n. 5), which testifies to an ancient tradition.

One Nguyễn lord in the early eighteenth century moved from the centre established by Nguyễn Hoàng around current Huế to set up his capital 15 km to the north. In Bác Vọng Đông, two sites are dedicated to the ‘Lady Princess Jade’ (Bà Chúa Ngọc) (Chapuis 1932Chapuis, A.1932. “Les lieux de culte du villages de Bac-Vonh-Dong.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 32–4: 371410. [Google Scholar], 392–393), close to places dedicated to the founders of the village. Whatever the capital in the region, the potency of the land remains linked to the first people who cleared it: the Chams.1616 One could use Schlecker’s (2013Schlecker, Markus2013. “War-Martyr Bia: Commemoration and Perdurability in Rural Vietnam.” In Interactions with a Violent Past. Reading Post-Conflict Landscapes in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, edited by Vatthana Pholsena and Oliver Tappe7895SingaporeNUS Press & IRASEC. [Google Scholar], 82) neologism and emphasise the ‘perdurability’ of Cham places and objects whose potency has survived the generations.View all notes

Even the Nguyễn emperors, from Minh Mạng in 1820, and especially under Đồng Khánh (1885–1889), accumulated titles, imperial patents and fervent descriptions of the goddess (Taylor 2004Taylor, Philip2004Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in VietnamHonoluluUniversity of Hawai’i Press. [Google Scholar], 32). The attitude of assimilation on the part of the Vietnamese is based on the idea of a potency fundamentally anchored in each place, in connection with the tutelary spirits. The veneration of Cham female spirits seems to have been organised first by Nguyễn Hoàng, in order to incorporate ethnic diversity (that is, the arrival of the Việts) into territorial continuity.

Today, in the many places of worship where a mother goddess is honoured, she is only called by her Vietnamicised name Thiên Y A Na. These places have proliferated across modern-day Vietnam, particularly in the Huế region, inhabited by a powerful spirit, that is, nonetheless, never an embodiment of a historical person.1717 Taylor (2004Taylor, Philip2004Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in VietnamHonoluluUniversity of Hawai’i Press. [Google Scholar], 65) refers to this in a legend in which Thiên Y A Na is a former Cham queen who lived in the fourteenth century.View all notes It is notable that temples and altars dedicated to Thiên Y A Na are close to Cham sites and, above all, that the Nguyễn centres of power are filled with the ‘spiritual imprint of the mother goddess’ (Nguyễn Thê Anh 1991Nguyễn Thế Anh, 1991. “Thiên-Y-A-Na ou la récupération de la déesse cam Pô Nagar par la monarchie confucéenne vietnamienne.” In Cultes populaires et sociétés asiatiques, edited by Alain ForestYoshiakiIshizawa, and Léon Vandermeersch7386ParisL’Harmattan. [Google Scholar], 83). Yet, these beliefs do not involve the local descendants of Chams; today, they honour their roots in their family temples, but never in sanctuaries erected to the goddess.

There are many sites dedicated to the goddess Thiên Y A Na, which do not overlap with sites where a female figure is honoured. The places in which Po Nagar (the goddess of the Earth) was potent were captured by a more inclusive political power, while the places related to mother goddesses were anchored in a more localised area. We assume that the Nguyễn rulers chose to deploy the local earth spirit for political purposes, the most potent being the Cham goddess in a region where the Cham imprint was still lasting.

In Phu Lủỏng, stones act as barriers against harmful influences. In this manner, a Cham stele is placed opposite the bridge and serves as a protection against the negative influences that might cross it. The Cham inscription marks the presence of an ancient tower.1818 Inscription C.112 (Huber 1911Huber, Edouard1911. “Etudes indochinoises. XII. L’épigraphie de la dynastie de Dong-Du’o’ng.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 11: 259311. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1911.2693[Crossref][Google Scholar], 283–284).View all notes The fact that it bears indecipherable Sanskrit characters may have contributed to the inscribed stone being chosen as a barrier (Cadière 1944Cadière, Léopold1944Croyances et pratiques religieuses des Viêtnamiens. Tome IIParisEFEO. [Google Scholar], 123).1919 Called ‘wild’ characters (chữ mọi) by the locals.View all notesOn the other side of the bridge, in the village of La Vân, a stone of the same origin but without inscriptions fulfils the same role. A tablet in the nearby small pagoda indicates that Thiên Y A Na is worshipped there. In La Vân there is still a community of a dozen homes inhabited by the Chế family, descendants of Chams. Chams, however, consider that the temple to Thiên Y A Na concerns Vietnamese beliefs, while their Cham heritage is preserved in the family temple (Figure 7).

Figure 7 Diagram of Stones’ Situation, According to Cadière 1919Cadière, Léopold1919. “II. Le culte des pierres.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, 19 (2): 139. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1919.5650[Crossref][Google Scholar] Fig. 16. Point A: The Cham Stele of Phu Lủỏng. Point B: Cham Stone.

Other sites include a place where Thiên Y A Na is recognised as being potent. In Hòn Chén, the origin of the cult to the goddess cannot be identified, but it is the main place of worship of Thiên Y A Na today, where possession cults are now celebrated.2020 The temple of Thiên Y A Na is located 6 km southwest of Huế and is officially called the ‘Mount of the Jade cup’ (Ngọc Trân), in popular language the ‘rock of the cup’ (Hòn Chén) and more commonly the ‘pagoda of the witch’. The present building dates from 1886, at the time of Emperor Đồng Khánh who was officially a follower of the goddess.View all notes The name lên dông ‘state of possession’ indicates that spirits come to control the medium (Bertrand 1996Bertrand, Didier1996“Renaissance du lên dõng à Huẽ (Việt Nam) Premiers éléments d’une recherche.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 83: 271285. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1996.3789[Crossref][Google Scholar], 271–285). The female spirit Thiên Y A Na is present there as the Mother of the Heavenly Palace, located at the front of the Pantheon in the centre of Vietnam (Chauvet 2012Chauvet, Claire2012Sous le voile rouge. Rituels de possession et réseaux cultuels à Hà Nội (Việt Nam)ParisLes Indes savantes. [Google Scholar], 15, 20), which, while still marked by Cham influence, is part of the cult of the Four Palaces, originating from the north of Vietnam. Thiên Y A Na is honoured as the ‘Holy Mother of Heaven’, associated with deities from the north.

Sometimes, a Sino-Vietnamese tablet dedicates the temple to the worship of Thiên Y A Na and by this token, indicates that the link with the Cham goddess was indeed forged by the Nguyễn. Thus, in Trạch Phỏ, the tablet mentioning the worship of Thiên Y Na (sic) is located directly above a Cham liṅga and the temple is called Miếu Bà ‘temple of the Lady’ by locals. Two mottos, carved in red painted wooden panels—gifts from the king Thành Thái (1889–1907)—show that he introduced this cult to Thiên Y (A) Na, called ‘female spirit’ (thần nữ).

Similarly, in Liếu Cốc, a temple was built by the Vietnamese in front of two Cham brick towers dating from the tenth century. The temple is named Thần Nữ Miếu ‘temple of the female spirit’ and an official certificate, awarded by King Minh Mạng to the goddess Thiên Y A Na, is kept in the village.

One can conclude that the places of worship linked to Thiên Y A Na are places where the potency of the Cham goddess Po Nagar was reactivated. They were built by the Nguyễn lords and kings for political purposes to win over local people rooted in the territory, to thus strengthen the integration of their own people in the region (Schlemmer 2012Schlemmer, Grégoire2012. “Rituals, Territories and Powers in the Sino-Indian Margins.” Moussons 19: 53.http://moussons.revues.org/1174. [Google Scholar], 13), while at the same time demarcating themselves from the central power of north Vietnam. A social continuity during periods of political transition was thus maintained (Taylor 2004Taylor, Philip2004Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in VietnamHonoluluUniversity of Hawai’i Press. [Google Scholar], 30).

As a consequence, it is possible to assume that the potency of the sites was constructed in two stages. The Nguyễn lords recuperated the potency of the earth goddess to strengthen their political legitimacy vis-a-vis the northern authority. The Nguyễn kings thus reaffirmed their mark on the territory of the former inhabitants by distributing official certificates, showing that this potency was friendly to the dynasty.

The Goddesses

There is a whole category of still active sites where Cham statues are honoured. They are clearly identified as Cham female spirits and cannot be confused with other Vietnamese spirits. Other potent places can be found in the region, but they are identified differently. Let us focus here on the goddesses recognised as Cham using the terms discussed above: Bà Dàng (‘Sacred Dame’) or Bà lồi (‘Cham Lady’). These ‘ladies’, , are Cham sculptures, honoured near a large tree and, above all, the remains of Cham towers. None of these spirits are identified as masculine. However, almost no feminine representations are to be found there: in Thanh Phước, the Bà lồi is the demon Rāvaṇa, who is trying to shake a mountain where the god Śiva imprisoned him for a thousand years.2121 See an illustration in Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient from 1914, Fig. 5 at http://www.persee.fr/doc/befeo_0336-1519_1914_num_14_1_2869. Accessed August 13, 2017.View all notes Even if the virile figure of the devil leaves no place for ambiguity, the legend about this sculpture is connected with a female figure. Its small temple, formerly dedicated to the goddess Kỳ Thạch Phu nhân ‘goddess of the extraordinary stone’, lies at the confluence of the Perfume River and the Bô River. She is invoked against drought.2222 From Dai Nam nhut thông chi. 1849 (2): 40, cited in Đào Thai Hanh (1915Đào, Thái Hanh1915. “Histoire de la déesse Ky-Thach-Phu-Nhon.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 15–4: 453455. [Google Scholar], 453–455).View all notes Today, ritual ceremonies are organised on 15 January, 15 April and 15 July of the lunar calendar. A female lên dông who is possessed by the spirit dances to music and blesses each offering. It is recognised as a ritual performed for the Bà lồi. On 23 August 2016, we attended a Cau An ceremony dedicated to the . Once a year, in order to protect the villagers, the possessed female dances in front of the temple, then burns the money and paper offerings and throws the remains into the river.

In Lủỏng Hau, in the heart of a ‘sacred grove’ (lum Dàng), the old Cham temple was replaced by a modern pagoda, in which a Vietnamese mother goddess is honoured, placed on a Cham yoni, and the Bà Dàng, some 50 metres away from the temple, is a tympanum representing a large Śiva with a moustache and fourteen arms (Figure 8).

Figure 8 Lủỏng Hau. On the Right: at the Place of the Former Cham Tower: the Mother Goddess Standing on a Cham Yoni. On the Left: the Bà Dàng, the Tympanum of Dancing Śiva, in a Little Modern Temple.

In Mỹ Xuyên, two sculptures qualified as Bà lồi, one representing the god Śiva and the other the god Viṣṇu. Their presentation as ‘Lady out of the earth’ shows that their primary function as a member of the Hindu pantheon is of little consequence, while their anchorage in the territory is essential. One was an eighth-century bas-relief, no longer extant, which represented a recumbent Viṣṇu under a seven-headed nagatopped by a Brahma. The theme of Viṣṇu lying on the snake Ananta, symbol of the water under which the god sleeps before his enlightenment, and the birth of Brahma who will create the world, has in itself nothing feminine, and from the only known drawing of this bas-relief (Parmentier 1918Parmentier, Henri1918Inventaire descriptif des monuments Čam de l’Annam: tome IIParisErnest Leroux. [Google Scholar], 423, Fig. 125), the moustached face of Viṣṇu leaves no doubt about its masculinity.

The other sculpture was seen as an Umā (Cadière 1905aCadière, Léopold1905a. “Monuments et souvenirs chams du Quàng-tri et du Thưa-thièn.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 5: 185195. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1905.2637[Crossref][Google Scholar], 192), but it is actually a Śiva. The figure has undergone many changes, tending to feminise it more and more, as a comparison between the drawing published in 1918 (Parmentier 1918Parmentier, Henri1918Inventaire descriptif des monuments Čam de l’Annam: tome IIParisErnest Leroux. [Google Scholar], Fig. 116) and a photograph taken in 2013 testifies: the tunic has become a dress, with more and more ruffles; furthermore the deity now has long blond hair as well as a bun and the previously bare midriff is now adorned with a belt (Figure 9).

Figure 9 Mỹ Xuyên. Tenth-Century Cham Sculpture. Comparison between a 1918 Drawing and a Photograph Taken in 2013.

An array of sculptures are honoured as spirits coming out of the earth, be they classified as Bà dàng/giàngBà lồi or Phật lồi. The lồi sculptures ‘out of the earth’ are either reliefs or impressive sculptures: Rāvaṇa shaking a mountain in Thanh Phước; Śiva and Uma seated on the Nandi bull in Ưu Diêm; Śiva standing in Mỹ Xuyên; a great variety of sculptures with Garudas and feminine figures presenting offerings to Nhan Biều; Viṣṇu lying in Đa Nghi; Umā Mahiṣāsuramardini in Bích La; ten-armed Śiva dancing in Ha Mi. The giàng sculptures are liṅgas, fragments of yoni or less impressive statues, like the smiling Umā from Dương Lệ, now in the Đông Hà Museum.

Generally, these sculptures have been feminised and all these land-related gods, ‘sacred’ or ‘out of the earth’, are linked to the Chams.2323 An interesting comparison can be made with the Khmer statue of the Mekong delta which ‘naturally emerged from the sea’ (Taylor 2004Taylor, Philip2004Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in VietnamHonoluluUniversity of Hawai’i Press. [Google Scholar], 60).View all notes The Vietnamese have built places of potency in association with the spirits of the place, all related to a memory of the Cham. These places are located in the countryside and kept active by the offerings of the villagers who seek the protection of earth spirits for their own prosperity.

Conclusion

A careful study shows that Cham places or sculptures, acknowledged as potent, played a key role in the integration process of populations from the north into this territory: first in the sixteenth century, with the arrival of Lord Nguyễn Hoàng and his willingness to recognise and mobilise the potency of Cham places to his advantage in order to reinforce his local power vis-à-vis the capital; then, starting in the twentieth century, following the Nguyễn emperors, with a recognition of the potency of the Cham objects emerging from the earth. These objects associated with the earth bind people to their territory, thus founding their cultural identity. Places of worship, now established around Cham archaeological objects, have a geosymbolic dimension, in that they embody in the land the memory of the Chams and of the Việt occupation and root them all into their territory. The beliefs in the potency of spirits must then be included in a long-term process that includes Cham past remains in a new cultural dynamic.

Marking territory with the words dànglồi or linh shows an uninterrupted cult of the founding ancestors who cleared the land. The archaeo-geographic study of Thừa Thiên-Huế and Quảng Trị provinces demonstrates a reactivation of potent geosymbols related to the occupation of the founding ancestors that is understandable only if the historical depth of places is taken into account. The activation of potent places comes about in two stages: firstly, when the potent places are linked to the exercise of political power, places where Po Nagar, aka Thiên Y A Na, is honoured; secondly, when the re-appropriation of Cham places is performed via the popular cult to mother goddesses. The potent places related to the Cham past structure the sociocultural space of the Vietnamese today and the bond to the earth transcends the various origins of the inhabitants. The community, united around cults to the mistresses of the earth, has thus shaped its territory.

Notes

1 ‘Earth gods are not distinguishable in the specification of a territory (the contours of which are generally vague and fluctuating), but rather in that of a human community in connection with a natural environment that it develops’ (Formoso 1996Formoso, Bernard1996. “Les dieux du sol en Asie: de l’apprivoisement à l’inféodation.” Etudes rurales 143/144: 1526.http://www.jstor.org/stable/20122667. [Google Scholar], 16).

2 The current ‘citadel of Chams’ (Thành Lồi), located south of the Perfume River.

3 The Cham king is called by his Vietnamese name, as his native name is unknown.

4 Personal communication with Trần Đình Hằng, Director of VICAS- Huế, in August 2014 after Trịnh and Nguyễn’s 1997Trịnh, Khắc Mạnh, and Nguyễn, Văn Nguyên. 1997Ô Châu cận lụcHà NộiNhà xuất bản Khoa học xã hội. [Google Scholar] publication Bức tranh dân cư vùng Thuận Hóa đầu thế kỷ XV qua văn bản Thỉ thiên tự, 124–125.

5 Namely, An Dô, An Mỹ, Vân Thê and La Vân.

6 The Thuân Hoa forms the southern border of the Việt country and seems to be aptly named: Ô châu ac dia‘the district of Ô of an extreme rigour’ (Laborde 1921Laborde, A. 1921. “La province de Quàng-Tri.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 21: 109130. [Google Scholar], 111).

7 On the reception of people during his installation, see Taylor (1993Taylor, K.W. 1993. “Nguyen Hoang and the Beginning of Viet Nam’s Southward expansion.” In Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Era, edited by Anthony Reid4265IthacaCornell University Press. [Google Scholar], 62).

8 The ninth-century figure can be seen at: http://www.museedesconfluences.fr/fr/ressources/durga-mahasasura-mardini?destination=search/general/Durga%20Mahasasuramardini. Accessed August 14, 2017.

9 This can be clearly seen on Project Pacha’s geoportal: http://mapd.sig.huma-num.fr/projet_pacha/flash/?#my_layers. Accessed August 10, 2017.

10 The preface of Collection of the Departed Spirits from the Việt Realm (Vit Điện u linh tập), dated 1329, tells how among ‘mysterious affairs of spirits capable of great achievements’, four spirits out of thirty relate to Việt naval actions against the Cham country in the eleventh century (Taylor 1986Taylor, K.W. 1986. “Notes on the Việt Điện U Linh Tập.” Vietnam Forum 8: 2659. [Google Scholar], 26–59).

11 In the pagoda of the village of Lang (Schweyer 2011Schweyer, Anne-Valérie2011Ancient Vietnam: History, Art and ArchaeologyBangkokRiver Books. [Google Scholar], 296–297).

12 ‘The Map of the pacified South’ (Bình nam chỉ chưởng nhật trình đồ) probably drawn in the eighteenth century (History of Cartography 1987Harley J-B., and Woodward D. 1987The History of CartographyChicagoThe University of Chicago Press. [Google Scholar], 497) indicates the location of the site of Po Nagar in Nha Trang ‘Tower of the Princess Jade/Pearl’ (Chúa Ngọc Thap), proof of an identification of the mother goddesses around the Cham divinity.

13 On the use of dreams by rulers for a didactic purpose, see Kelley (2015Kelley, Liam. 2015. “Constructing Local Narratives: Spirits, Dreams, and Prophecies in the Medieval Red River Delta.” In China’s Encounters on the South and Southwest. Reforging the Fiery Frontier Over Two Millennia, edited by James Anderson78105LeidenBrill. [Google Scholar], 98–104). Controlling the spirits seems to be more than just a way to ‘keep the common people in line’ but a process to incorporate them.

14 The present village of Trà Liên was called Trà Bat in the mid-sixteenth century as recorded in Ô châu cân luc (Trịnh and Nguyễn 1997Trịnh, Khắc Mạnh, and Nguyễn, Văn Nguyên. 1997Ô Châu cận lụcHà NộiNhà xuất bản Khoa học xã hội. [Google Scholar], 42).

15 Ô châu cân luc, ch. 5, ‘Pagodas and Temples’ (Trịnh and Nguyễn 1997Trịnh, Khắc Mạnh, and Nguyễn, Văn Nguyên. 1997Ô Châu cận lụcHà NộiNhà xuất bản Khoa học xã hội. [Google Scholar], 79).

16 One could use Schlecker’s (2013Schlecker, Markus2013. “War-Martyr Bia: Commemoration and Perdurability in Rural Vietnam.” In Interactions with a Violent Past. Reading Post-Conflict Landscapes in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, edited by Vatthana Pholsena and Oliver Tappe7895SingaporeNUS Press & IRASEC. [Google Scholar], 82) neologism and emphasise the ‘perdurability’ of Cham places and objects whose potency has survived the generations.

17 Taylor (2004Taylor, Philip2004Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in VietnamHonoluluUniversity of Hawai’i Press. [Google Scholar], 65) refers to this in a legend in which Thiên Y A Na is a former Cham queen who lived in the fourteenth century.

18 Inscription C.112 (Huber 1911Huber, Edouard1911. “Etudes indochinoises. XII. L’épigraphie de la dynastie de Dong-Du’o’ng.” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient 11: 259311. doi: 10.3406/befeo.1911.2693[Crossref][Google Scholar], 283–284).

19 Called ‘wild’ characters (chữ mọi) by the locals.

20 The temple of Thiên Y A Na is located 6 km southwest of Huế and is officially called the ‘Mount of the Jade cup’ (Ngọc Trân), in popular language the ‘rock of the cup’ (Hòn Chén) and more commonly the ‘pagoda of the witch’. The present building dates from 1886, at the time of Emperor Đồng Khánh who was officially a follower of the goddess.

21 See an illustration in Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient from 1914, Fig. 5 at http://www.persee.fr/doc/befeo_0336-1519_1914_num_14_1_2869. Accessed August 13, 2017.

22 From Dai Nam nhut thông chi. 1849 (2): 40, cited in Đào Thai Hanh (1915Đào, Thái Hanh1915. “Histoire de la déesse Ky-Thach-Phu-Nhon.” Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Hué 15–4: 453455. [Google Scholar], 453–455).

23 An interesting comparison can be made with the Khmer statue of the Mekong delta which ‘naturally emerged from the sea’ (Taylor 2004Taylor, Philip2004Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in VietnamHonoluluUniversity of Hawai’i Press. [Google Scholar], 60).

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